Collaboration in Action

I’ve been really busy recently moving back from Paris, setting up for freelance contracts and setting up a house here again. Whilst I was sorting through my ‘stuff’ I came across a whitepaper I wrote a couple of years ago whilst I was at theblueballroom. It made for interesting reading so I thought I’d bring it out again and share it.

It looks at social media and collaboration platforms from an internal communicators perspective. A fair bit has changed since this was published but it’s still worth a read. The contents includes an introduction and evaluation of tools such as twitter, wikis, blogs and RSS as well as examining multi-functional collaboration platforms such as SharePoint, Jive, Socialtext and Huddle.

You can download the paper here;

Collaboration in Action

http://www.theblueballroom.com/download.php

If you have any comments on the work please do  add them to this page.

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Disrupt our Hospitals

Due to a family illness I spent the end of last week in a hospital in the UK. I’m still shocked at the communication tools on offer both for staff and for patients, I understand there is no money in the country let alone the NHS to fund such improvements in ”the patient experience, but surely there is enough research into the ‘healing powers’ of community, interaction and engagement for individuals who are suffering and going through a difficult period.

I’ll focus on the patients on the wards I walked through first, these were normal wards you see in every hospital, being in the Cotswolds it probably wasn’t as bad as I’ve seen (Royal Sussex, I’m looking at you), but the level of boredom on the patient’s faces was unbelievable. Not surprising really given that they could only really read the Daily Mail or The Sun or stare at the other patients. Surely it’s in the longer term best interest for everyone to keep these patients occupied and engaged in the outside world whilst they are in the ward. Yes, ok they are supposed to be resting but no-one will force any mass participation of online activity. So what am I suggesting, here goes;

Specially designed Terminals which offer internet access, software which enables the patient to learn about their issues (what is going on and what will need to be done in the future), a sort of opt-in social network enabling patients to find others who have similar issues and start the building or integrating into a support network after they leave the hospital. Even something as basic as finding other patients with similar interests would surely go along way to keep spirits up.

Cost is prohibitive, but I’d really like to see a study on recovery period and interactions and communications over a set period.

The other side is why-oh-why aren’t Nurses and Doctors walking around with ipads continually logged onto patient database which is updated immediately, after every visit, consultation or change in the patient? We endured the nightmare of watching our relative move wards only to find out the Nurses on the second ward didn’t actually know the full extent of her problems. This would not have been the case had the staff been empowered with technology and not tied up carrying clipboards and notes around with them.

Given that the last national NHS digital implementation went something like 11 million over budget and was delivered 2 years late I’m not holding my breath for any change any time soon.

Good news for Facebookers

The new Facebook metric ‘People Talking About This’  is an absolutely gem of a metric allowing  content managers and marketers a true insight into what is working and what is not when they add content on Facebook . The old methods of looking at number of impressions, likes and reach of users is still valid, that, plus the announcment of an Insights API for developers enabling custom metrics shows Facebook are really getting their teeth into understanding core metrics aimed at all the different stakeholders on a brand’s page.

As a content producer I’m looking forward to getting a better understanding of what content is being shared and as importantly by who and where, this will enable me to find tweak content accordingly until I hit the sweet-spot. As a user of Facebook  I’m looking forward to more relevant content comming my way, apart from an enlightened few posts, a lot of my stream was being clogged up with sales announcements etc, I see email as the medium for this. I want engaging content in my social areas.

The only issue I have is that, is that when a comment is made on the post, that is then classified as being shared  (as it will appear in users friends feed) It could often contain negative comments, yet this would still be included. I’m not sure if there are plans to drill down into that?

All the same it’s a positive move in the right direction.

10 tips on how to drive adoption on your social intranet

  1. Identify the purpose of the platform against a business need. Drill down what the platform is actually for and structure your strategy accordingly
  2. Plan content on the basis of the business need/goal. Plan relevant content and link it to what is going on in the business at that time. This gives users ideal discussion topics
  3. Plan how you are are going to curate content – give feedback to authors early on their posts and make sure standards are clearly explained
  4. Write guidelines and as much support material as possible. Think of the lowest denominator when doing so
  5. Identify early adopters within the audience and start the dialogue early. Gather feedback from them and listen to what they say
  6. Identify Champions/Maverns and Rock stars, engage them and work with them to build a community around them
  7. But don’t forget the little guy. Ensure communications and adoption techniques are reaching everyone
  8. Reward and incentivise  emerging users and promote great content from users
  9. Make sure the content is delivered through words, visuals, video and podcast – everyone is different and everyone chooses to process information in different ways
  10. Use ‘nudge’ techniques encourage leaders to comment on articles and engage in what is being shared.

Related article

How to build a social intranet

How to launch a social network (Google +)

Over the last few days there has been a flurry of activity from my early adopter friends on Google+. It seems only one friend is 100% certain of what he is doing with the tool (he’s living and working in Germany so efficiency has been drilled into him). The rest of us are still not 100% sure who will be seeing our updates and how everything meshes together.

We have come across a few kinks in the platform (it is still in BETA) and are happily collaborating with each other and sending feedback to Google with the aim to understand and get the most out of the tool. In essence Google+ has got me talking to more people and expanding my network before I really start using it.

The theme of this post is not to run through the features and benefits of Google+,  as there are plenty of articles and content already circulating the web from far more accomplished writers. I wanted to share my thoughts on the ‘How’ Google+ has been introduced into our lives, and why I think this will be fundamental to its success.

To access Google+ you would have to have an invite either from Google (because you registered an interest in the Google+ Project earlier in the development process), or you would have to receive an invite from friend who was lucky enough to have been invited by Google. Google+ wasn’t advertised and pushed out to the market with a succession of banner ads and marketing bumf, the same way Chrome has been recently. Most people, me included, heard about it through social networks on the day the invites started dropping into inbox’s. In a nutshell, Google has used the power of social networks to soft launch its Google+ tool.

Why did it choose this launch strategy? First, it creates a sense of exclusivity amongst the early users. These users feel part of an elite community testing out G+ and because of this are closer to the brand/service they are testing.

Second, and following on from the first point, these early users are more likely to become brand champions, because of their increased levels of engagement with G+. And, if you have enough brand champions in each network then engagement levels within that network have been proven to be higher than in those without a keen advocate.

Third, and there is no evidence to support this theory, if you have a series of early adopters testing and collaborating on a BETA stage, then Google has some pretty strong data on how these users are connecting and how they communicate – essentially giving Google a glimpse of how the behaviour of these users could be morphing into a new way of using these tools. There is also the possibility that a super network of connected early adopters could be developed in some way.

The cynic would suggest Google has a working version of G+ ready to roll out at the drop of a hat and that the launch strategy is a sophisticated marketing campaign, rather than a collaborative development experience.

The way users have been asked to be involved a little before they are given this free tool is a refreshing approach to communications and one which ultimately creates more engaged users. I’m not sure this approach will work for all brands or services, but it is clearly the best way to “grab’ users of other services and get them engaged as early as possible, in a highly aggressive market, in which Google is not dominant.

What do you think of Google’s launch strategy?

Looking after the community – how I deal with UG content

As part of the communications strategy for the website I manage we decided that we simply must build a community on Facebook –  from a branding perspective and a social commerce perspective (we have added a commerce plugin to our page) it looks like the ideal channel to build our community and engage with new audiences – easy.

The initial content which we uploaded was fundamentally a bit of broadcast about news products and ranges, mixed in with valuable content such as buying guides and how to guides. I wanted to get to the point where if we posted new material on our Facebook page our ‘Likes’ (ers) will engage in debate and comment to start creating earned media content for us. I essentially wanted our Likes (ers) to be writing our content and creating links for us.

How did we go about this? Simple, I offered an incentive start the ball rolling.  A competition was launched in which the ‘Likers’ (I’m fed up of writing Liker (ers)) post anecdotes about days they wished they had a taken a Duvet day and stayed at home under the duvet. The winning post, chosen by us, would win a duvet – simple. I then promoted the competition using Facebook adverts and via Twitter.

I started to receive posts on ‘Likers’ about spilling coffee over colleagues and such, but I also received posts which I was a little uncomfortable with on our page, posts describing bodily functions etc. I was put in a conundrum; as an advocate of Social Media I wanted to keep the posts live – after all this is what our community want to share and to be honest they weren’t offensive. Or, as a Brand leader to I protect the brand and remove all of this content? I have kept my own counsel on this but have decided to keep the posts up. If I receive complaints or they offend anyone then I’ll review the situation. My rationale is that it would go against I believe is right about Social Media and the move towards open and transparent brand communications. I want to encourage openness and feedback from our customers and our community as well. If I start removing inoffensive content which isn’t ‘On-brand’ and approved I’ll lose any trust from community. I hope most communicators feels the same.

The would be the same if a ‘Liker’ or a customer posted negative content about our products or service. I’d hope that we’d be able to resolve the situation in public and move on, leaving both the user happy with the experience and a public trail of how good our brand is at dealing with complaints and issues.

It might be a good idea to bullet point my thoughts on user-generated content and how to handle the unexpected;

  1. Like a boy scout – be prepared
  2. Have Social Media guidelines ready for everyone
  3. Think be you act on any content – always take a look at all potentials avenues
  4. Engage with the User don’t just delete comment and not find out more about the users motives
  5. Amplify succesful interactions

Most importantly remember if customers fans are not posting negative content about you in your environment, they sure as hell will be in an environment you may not know about.